Whale calves under threat: Greens take action and say Minister should go

31st May 2010 - Greens MLC Robin Chapple has savaged Woodside for undertaking unapproved seismic surveys in the immediate vicinity of a whale pod that includes many baby whales.   

Mr Chapple also said that the Minister for the Environment, Donna Faragher should resign over the affair because the EPA was apparently oblivious to the survey work taking place in the Browse Basin whale nursery and off James Price Point.   

 “It is unacceptable for Woodside to undertake this work without fulfilling the most basic requirements for environmental approval,” Mr. Chapple said.   

 “To operate seismic survey equipment in the immediate area of calving whales is unconscionable.”

 The first sighting of the annual northern migration of humpback whales, known as Breeding Group D, was confirmed in Kimberley waters on May 24.   Woodside commenced seismic blasting operations in the area on the same day.  

The booming noise from oil and gas seismic testing can hinder whale-to-whale communication and threaten the whale’s ability to navigate, kill prey and reproduce. 

“If this happens to adult humpback whales, the effect would be multiplied on the fetuses and newborns” said Mr. Chapple.

“It is obscene that this Government is allowing seismic blasting to occur amongst the returning pregnant whale cows and new born calves.”

Under questioning from Mr. Chapple last week, the Minister admitted that she and the EPA had no knowledge of Woodside’s intended seismic air blasting proposals.

The Greens MP immediately referred the matter to the Environmental Protection Authority but said that it was unbelievable that the Minister had no knowledge of the operations.

“It is utterly disgraceful that an Environment Minister should be so oblivious to such an important issue.  This again demonstrates that the current Minister has to go,” Mr. Chapple said.

“This affair makes Australia’s referral of the Japanese whaling in the Southern Ocean to the International Court of Justice in the Hague quite hypocritical. This whale pod is the same that were being harpooned in the southern ocean and are now going to be blasted with underwater geological testing off WA by Woodside.”

  •  Contact: Robin Chapple on 0409 379 263

  Woodside Data:



Activity Commences


Nearshore high resolution seismic refraction survey

Seismic refraction survey using a 5 cubic inch gun and two fifty metre streamers (towed half a metre below the sea surface). There will be no stabilization chains.


Activity occurs within state waters in the vicinity of James Price Point with the extent of this survey being the same as the nearshore geotechnical extent.

24 May 2010

~21 - 28 days

Nearshore geotechnical site investigation


This activity will utilise 1 to 2 jack-up barges to drill a number of boreholes within state waters in the vicinity of James Price Point.

Late June

~35-75 days (depending on number of jack-up barges utilized)

Koolama 2D seismic survey


A two dimensional (2D) seismic survey in Petroleum Permit Areas WA-415-P, WA-416-P and WA-417-P. This survey will be undertaken in waters approximately 40km from Broome. A seismic vessel towing a single 6km streamer will undertake 4km transects.

25 May 2010

~35 days (completed by 30 June)

Offshore pipeline route - geotechnical sampling site investigation survey


Drilling of bore holes and cone penetration tests on the sea bed along the approximate offshore pipeline route out to the Brecknock and Calliance fields (approximately 400km from Broome).

25 May 2010

~60 days


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